Engine, Engine, Number 9, on the Historical PA Transit Line…

Standard

The Strasburg Railroad

863b7f8a-3ec2-4c6e-94a4-afb7c7c423ac

@StrasburgRR Facebook

If you’re choo-choo-choosing activities perfect for your locomotive lovin’ family this season, check out the 185 year old steam engine extravaganza that is The Strasburg Railroad in Strasburg, PA.

64fb628f-b2b4-41e4-bc4a-45647dce6373

If you have a train happy kid they will be beyond thrilled to make a visit. Besides the old time steam engines that have been operating for close to two centuries, there are all kind of fun activities to do, keeping your kids outside and busy for hours!

Our adventure began taking a ride on the train overlooking the beautiful Lancaster farmland. As we chugged ahead in our open air train car we were able to take advantage of the breeze while still being covered from the sun. Inside Outside perfection.

a1edb077-2ebb-4394-bc03-a834aee92159

Après-train, we spent several hours meandering around the station enjoying the “fun extras” including mini stream trains and pump cars. But hands down my kid’s favorite attraction was the cranky cars. These hand-propelled cars (perfectly size for both my seven year old and three year old) date back to the 1930s, and allow little ones to crank their way around a train track. Thank goodness the line was short, as I’d estimate they went on roughly 400 times – laughing hysterically each time. But before I mock, I should say I’m pretty sure I have the same exact picture of me at this age, doing the same exact thing, in the same exact location!

2181e083-49d0-4139-ad0c-aae9446b2430

If your kid’s jam is Thomas then a visit is a must during one of these three 2017 dates – June 17-25, September 16-24, and November 17-19. With photo ops galore and some extra activities available, all your kid’s dreams can come true with their #1 light blue friend.

7b993d4e-efea-418a-b541-4412e6259687

If the Sodor obsession has sailed, check out The Strasburg Railroad’s other great upcoming events including The Great Train Robbery.

Not sure yet when you can locomo-tivate to go? (sorry) You can buy tickets at anytime online and view their Train Schedule and Operating Schedule making it nice and easy.

If your visit spans lunchtime, check out their dining car or the beautiful Picnic Groves. I’ve always wanted to eat in the dining car of a train… sounds so romantic. Someone watch my kids.

f2516620-98ae-4363-be27-4bdafd90949c

If you like to rock it Andrew Jackson style, this family attraction is for you. For the history buffs out there, it’s cool to learn how the The Strasburg Railroad – the oldest continuously operating railroad in the western hemisphere – got to be such a giant and how it was integral to the area’s success. The Strasburg Railroad is a great place to visit on your Lancaster adventure.

7c158147-61c0-4737-bd9e-bc4a6758a8dd

There are so many wonderful destinations in the Amish Country. The hardest part of planning a vacation there is finding enough time to do them all. Happy travels!

Tis the Season for Turkey! Turkey Hill Experience, That Is!

Standard

img_0964As Thanksgiving approaches and everyone starts googling turkey recipes I wanted to make sure mine was included. It’s an easy recipe – open lid, get spoon, scoop, and eat.  Because people – without a doubt, my favorite type of turkey is Turkey Hill ice cream.

Do you agree?

If so I highly, highly recommend visiting the Turkey Hill Experience + Lab on your next visit to Lancaster, PA. A place where it’s always time to “talk turkey” (sorry).

img_0952-1

My family and I recently visited the fun, interactive (and delicious) Turkey Hill Experience and I must say – I am so glad we did. It was one of the clear highlights of our trip because – you know – ice cream! Not only was there plentiful samples, but there was fun stuff for the kids to play with and on, great family picture opportunities (you know I loves me a good stick-your-face-in-it thing), and my favorite – an opportunity to create my own flavor in their scientific, white lab coat wearing Taste Lab.

img_0946-1

With three kids – ages six, three, and an infant, our one and only family vacation needed stroller friendly stops that could accommodate for multiple audiences. The Turkey Hill Experience with its nine interactive exhibit areas including the story of the Turkey Hill Dairy and how the company’s top-selling ice cream and iced tea flavors are selected and created kept my kids interested for hours.

While my daughter could read and learn, my son could milk a mechanical cow, go in ball pits, swirl down slides, and sit in a milk truck. The baby – well – he was just excited to sample the flavors later on from his own personal dairy cow.  Moo.

Besides the above, this colorful and eye pleasing space offered a digital “create your own ice cream flavor” which walked you through several exhibits allowing you to create your own ice cream package and even film a commercial!

But my favorite activity of all was the Taste Lab. For a few dollars more you could go behind locked doors into the dream-come-true land of create your own ice cream flavor using all kinds of tastes and toppings (or as they say – flavoring, inclusions, and variegates). Well worth it, you not only get to play scientist but you learn more fun facts about the Dairy and brand and get to tour the facility eating your creation.

More than just a delicious Dairy, as a proud tree hugger, you can imagine my excitement when I learned about Turkey Hill’s sustainability and environmental impact-reduction projects including the adaptive reuse and rehabilitation of the building that houses the Turkey Hill Experience. As strong advocates for preserving the history, culture, and open spaces of Lancaster County, they decided to convert the 25 year old vacant Ashley & Bailey Silk Mill into their new ice cream oasis instead of new construction. Along the same lines, once inside you can find many creative little ways they used recycled material.

img_0965

Have only a short time to visit but think it sounds fun!? Stop by and check out the fully stocked tongue in cheek gift shop or one of the few exhibits open to the public at no charge. I promise the next time, you’ll stay to play.

Looking for a fun holiday activity? Check out the Turkey Hill Experience Ice Cream with Santa offered from 6pm – 8pm on Saturday December 10th and 17th, 2016. A perfect time to visit and enjoy the beautifully decorated space – including several themed Christmas trees. Kids under twelve can create a holiday card that will be mailed to their special someone, listen to Santa read Christmas stories, make a Christmas craft, and enjoy a special Christmas ice cream treat and one of Mrs. Claus’ freshly baked cookies. Turkey Hill drinks will be provided during the event.

img_0960

Designed by the same firm as The Hershey Story and the Connecticut Science Center, the Turkey Hill Experience, located at 301 Linden St., Columbia, PA 17512, directly off Route 30 at the Columbia exit, opened on June 4, 2011. For hours of operation please visit their schedule. I also HIGHLY recommended ordering tickets (in advance) online as all tours were sold out by the time we arrived.

img_0966-1

What’s that saying?

Save a turkey, eat some ice cream!?

Happy Thanksgiving!

***Giveaway***

The Turkey Hill Experience would like to give away a family 4 pack of tickets to one lucky Mint Chip Mama reader!

To enter, please comment below with your favorite Turkey Hill ice cream flavor!

Winner will be chosen on Turkey Day, (November 24th, 2016) of course! 

Dutch Wonderland – A Fantastic Family Destination!

Standard

21a983b4-c268-4876-9c39-e7c4a8858d70

Hear Ye Hear Ye.

If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway, look no further than Dutch Wonderland.

While the water rides are hibernating for the season, the dry rides & shows are plentiful and festivals are non-stop!

59f8509b-df72-4149-b628-e9cfce7962d2

Few things are a young family’s rite of passage like a road trip to an amusement park. So as a new family of five we decided to give it a go. We strategically planned our visit to Lancaster, PA in early September before our school started – but while most others were already in session. Off peak, off peak, off peak.

I should note I have been DYING to go to Dutch Wonderland for (give or take) thirty five years. As a child my parents and I frequented Amish country but as my Dad says “It was raining every time we tried to go”.

Uh..huh…

While I won’t say I specifically remember sun…. I’ll just say I never got to go – but I passed those castle gates many a time with my hand outstretched towards them and a tear in my eye.

Alas…

34dad4b6-3599-49a3-8726-463c6b307e81

I vowed that one day, one day (!) my kids would get to walk through those castle gates. That day, people, was September 1st, 2016.

With three kids – six and a half, almost three, and three months we thought this was the perfect time to visit. I have to say – we were right!

The park is large in attractions but not overwhelming. While you could go on all the rides in one day the best offer around is to take advantage of the evening preview the night before. For us – with the earlier closing hour of 6pm – this was perfect. We arrived at 3pm and knocked out all of the “bigger” rides we knew would have lines the next day. I loved the preview not only for the efficient (and complimentary) aspect of it but also so I could plan our full day there with some knowledge of the park layout from my own eyes vs. the online map.

97477f44-0afd-4595-a811-53efab69a07b

My daughter loved the “bigger” rides but equally loved the smaller rides she could go on with her little brother. The rides were a bit edgier than our local amusement park so she was super excited. My son loved driving the cars and the train. I liked the “sitting and recharging” rides – read: train, monorail, and boat ride. As a parent – shade plus sitting is always a big, big win. The baby was excited for the new “Nursing Station”. But truthfully, I found the whole park nursing friendly with benches located all around.

While the summer months (Memorial Day – Labor Day) are a great time to visit Dutch Wonderland to take advantage of Duke’s Lagoon, the Fall and Winter months are a killer time to go as well. Rides in jeans and a t-shirt vs. tank tops and sweat? Sign me up.

fb201fa4-8c74-46b7-9d37-1f967bb5ca4f

The 2016 season is still going strong. In the Fall there is Happy Hauntings (Saturdays and Sundays through October 30th) featuring themed rides, special entertainment, tasty treats, and the Trick-or-Treat Trail (a safe, interactive trick-or-treating experience).

If you’re looking for a party – check out the Spook-tacular Halloween Bash (Saturday and Sunday October 29th and 30th) featuring music, dancing and more.

c811bcbd-9524-4e70-87b8-d69c4b5eece0

In the winter – on select dates from November 19th to December 30th you can check out the Dutch Winter Wonderland with rides, entertainment, and the Royal Light Show – a spectacular display of thousands of twinkling lights dancing to your favorite holiday tunes!

Want to do good and receive a complimentary ticket to Dutch Winter Wonderland!? Well head there on November 19th, 2016 between 3:00pm and 9:00pm (the grand opening evening of Dutch Winter Wonderland) with a new, unwrapped toy. Children under the age of 12 will receive one complimentary admission in exchange for each donation to the Toys for Tots Foundation toy drive.

As frequent visitors to our local amusement park – which has the same number of rides packed in to half the acreage – it was absolutely delightful to spend a day at Dutch Wonderland. Not only were there tons of rides and games, special treats like Dole Whip Junction and Funnel cake, a few Dutch education stations (my kids were really into these), shows, and characters – there were also lots of fun “stick your face in the picture” thingies which we all love.

img_0204

So at 38 I can say my dream came true. I finally got to enter those big castle gates, walk over the drawbridge – naturally surrounded by a moat – and see the amazing place that is Dutch Wonderland. We had such a great time. The park wasn’t big enough to be stressful, but was big enough to fill our day and leave us wanting to return.  There were plenty of places to eat, rest, play, and enjoy. Dutch Wonderland’s location offered many fun resorts and restaurants within a ten minute drive and there was more to do in the area than we had days to be there. Just a fantastic weekend all around.

Go. Enjoy.

Think of me when you’re eating that Dole Whip!

0b320901-bd32-4d11-81a8-19dfc24a7790